Jim Wiskerchen, owner of JAW Cellars, knows what it’s like to pursue a dream. After all, he spent years working in the wine industry before he felt ready to produce his own wines. Wiskerchen shared with us what it’s like to make the jump and what the future will bring for JAW Cellars.
CRUSHBREW: Can you tell our readers how Jaw Cellars got started and how you got involved with the project?
JIM WISKERCHEN: JAW Cellars is the personal brand for James Alan Wiskerchen (me). I have been working in the Arizona wine industry for over 20 years. I started working with wine when I was only 23. The last several years I have worked as a consultant to many Arizona wineries.
Helping winery owners mostly with self-distribution of their small, boutique productions. Several years ago I started learning how to make wine from my clients. I would help out with harvest both in the vineyards and in the winery mostly. My wines are aged primarily in new oak. These first vintage wines were made in 20 case lots in 25-gallon new American oak barrels. A few months ago, I released my first wines from JAW Cellars. CrushBrew Festival is JAW Cellar’s first.
CB: Can you tell us a bit more about the wines Jaw Cellars produces?
JW: My first JAW Cellars wines are three reds from the 2013 vintage. These wines were aged in new American oak.
The 2013 Chateauneuf du Sonoita comes from purchased fruit from Rancho Rossa Vineyard. This red wine is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah. These wines were in oak for about nine months. Light in color and unfiltered, this wine has delectable red fruits, with an under current of earthiness and oak.
The 2013 Jawbone Red is the reverse of the Chateauneuf du Sonoita: 80% Syrah to 20% Grenache. This wine has Blackberry fruit and is fuller bodied and more powerful. Great with BBQ and grilled meats.
The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon is my favorite wine. It has a splash of Grenache, which gives it a floral lift in the nose. This wine is well balanced and spent 13 months in new American oak.
The 2014 Viognier is a dry, full-bodied wine that has a lemon curd taste to it. Great with seafood of all types. This wine was aged for eight months in neutral barrels.
The 2014 Chardonnay is a light Chardonnay with lots of pineapple fruit and toasty coconut from the year of aging in new American oak. This wine is a great pool sipper but pairs with many foods. Has an oaky aroma that dissipates in the taste. Not your typical Chardonnay.
CB: What’s involved in producing wines at a small scale? Do you think small-scale winemaking allows winemakers more of a chance to experiment and be innovative?
JW: These wines are hand crafted in very small lots. This makes the wines cost a little more, but you will be able to taste the difference in quality. These wines were babied and no expense spared at this level of production.
CB: What kind of direction do you see Jaw Cellars taking? And what’s coming up next?
JW: JAW Cellars has now two vintages in the pipeline to be released in six months to a year. I added Mourvedre to the lineup in 2015. Many new barrels were purchased also in 2015 that will be fun to experiment with. I expect it to be a very good vintage. I will be having many tasting and dinner opportunities for JAW Cellars in 2016. I will also start a wine club in 2016 as well.